• Post-debate thoughts

    For heaven’s sake. The Ryan-Wyden plan was released today and there was not one substantive question on health policy. I thought there would be something; I was wrong. In fact, this debate seemed far more concerned with process than with substance overall.

    I’m forced to think again to four years ago. This was mid-November 2007 coverage of a Democratic primary debate:

    In one of the liveliest exchanges of the Democratic debate last night, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton said that Senator Barack Obama’s health care plan “would leave 15 million Americans out.” That, Mrs. Clinton added in an ominous nod to the early nominating states, is “about the population of Nevada, Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire.” Mr. Obama countered that “the fact of the matter is that I do provide universal health care.”

    The crux of their dispute centers on their overall approaches to health care.

    Mrs. Clinton’s plan would require all Americans to get coverage and would provide subsidies to make it more affordable. Mr. Obama’s plan would require only children to have coverage; his plan would require employers to provide coverage or contribute to a new public program that would make insurance more affordable to people not covered by their jobs or by the government.

    Why is health care reform not an issue in these debates? There wasn’t even the usual “how quickly would you repeal Obamacare” question. Is it the candidates? Is it the party? Is it the moderators? Why is this not being discussed?


    • This debate seemed especially lacking on substantive policy questions. That being said, I just don’t think you’re going to get the kind of nuts and bolts, deep probing policy discussions on health care policy that you saw from the Democrats in ’07. Have you taken a look back at the level of interest during the same time in the Republican primary? It was mostly two things: Selling insurance across state lines and introducing vague free-market oriented mechanisms. Essentially the same dynamic exists now as it did then. Which is to say that beyond the talking points of repealing the ACA, the Republican base does not seem to care, nor are demanding, substantial health care policies of substance.

    • The whole point of the Ryan/Wyden plan is to insulate the eventual GOP nominee from their support for Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget (I think that means it’s likely that Ryan’s running for President, but we’ll see). You don’t even have to read between the lines to see this in the WSJ editorial that accompanied the Ryan/Wyden Op-Ed announcing the plan:

      “Democrats are running on Mediscare in 2012 and President Obama has all but called the “premium support” reform un-American, if not the decline and fall of Western civilization. That would seem to put the issue in Newt Gingrich’s wheelhouse, but the GOP candidate also claimed in a recent interview that the Paul Ryan reform model is “politically impossible” and “suicide.” Well, not so fast.”

      There’s no reason to release it now if you actually want people to talk about it; let alone if you want a Congressional vote on it. The candidates don’t want to talk about health care excepting folks who aren’t Romney wanting to ding Romneycare. A debate sponsored by Fox News isn’t going to be a place where candidates are given the opportunity to slip up on a complicated subject that only one or two of them know anything about. The GOP wants to be able to reuse the effective “Obama cut $500B from Medicare!!!” attack from 2010 and use this new plan as a firewall against any response citing Ryan’s budget. There’s a very good reason you can’t identify any specific savings in the plan, why it’ll never be written up into a bill and submitted to the CBO, etc.

      I bet that there will be a BS econometric study from Heritage released sometime during the 2012 campaign that finds that RydenCare magically pumps GDP growth to 5%/year by lowering business administrative costs and empowering consumers to consume and thus solves the long term deficit problem without having to actually spend less on Medicare.

    • It is the party. They profess to be concerned about debt and spending, yet do not talk about the single largest contributor to our future debt. Pending details, I am less concerned about the Wyden-Ryan plan. I think that I would just constantly emphasize how much it is like the ACA.


    • There are only 2 reasons Republicans would want to talk about health policy: restraining costs increases in Medicare and Medicaid or covering the uninsured. The first promises nothing in the way of getting votes so it’s a non-starter and the second is something the GOP base doesn’t care about and actively opposes any efforts to address.
      Why would you expect the candidates to want to talk about health policy?